Your cell number could be more valuable than your social security is at risks of exposing you to piracy, hacking and identity theft.
Corporations are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to stay in the loop on consumer activity. It’s become clear that cell phones and smart devices are a standard among the population and people spend a lot of their time swiping and tapping their touch screens. Startups are beginning to recognize this trend and adapting to the changing market.
Organizations such as Tala monitors the data from users to determine their aptitude to repay loans. Customers would have to download Tala’s app enabling the company to monitor their online transactions, utility payments, phone calls and other relevant information. Tala’s founder and CEO, Shivani Siroya, believes that most of consumer’s daily life is spent on their cell phones and this concept can help less developed nations build their credit. Tala has delivered nearly 800,000 loans ranging from $10-250 each and have had a reimbursement rate of 90% from selected borrowers. There isn’t a rudimentary process to determine whether or not users will be eligible for a loan because Tala takes a number of factors into consideration. One example Siroya made was if a user’s contacts are listed under both first and last names, they are over 15 times more dependable than those with fewer contacts listed with just first names.
A startup from Sweden known as Truecaller offers an app that empowers users to identify and automatically reject undesired callers. People would download it, input their personal info and Truecaller would collect the contact data that users frequently call. In addition, they offer a blacklisting feature that blocks calls from unwanted vendors. The company’s CEO Alan Mamedi said, “Mobile phones are the most used form of communications in the world, and yet it’s often just a number, lacking an identity.” Truecaller’s online directory and identity service now has over 250 million global users mostly in developing regions such as Africa, India and the Middle East.
With more and more people using cell phones and allowing third parties to access their personal information, the issue of privacy comes into question. This 7 digit phone number has become a portal into one’s spending habits, daily activity, and personal life. This wasn’t the original intent of a cell number just as the Social Security number wasn’t initially designed to be a method to identify the general population. However Unlike a Social Security number, a cell phone is interlinked to a number of databases and entities that are often overlooked when submitted via online application. This poses an even bigger risk for deception and identity theft. Companies such as Affirm have counteracted these risks by granting users a temporary identification number that can be entered online. Another example is Sideline that provides people with an alternative phone number in addition to their primary. Their service is free for individuals and $10 a month for businesses.
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